Another Look at Psalms Past

Last year, I penned the below psalm as part of my Monday psalm writing series--a series in which I attempted to create some more liturgical poetry. It was inspired by the text of Psalm (Psalm 2), which begins with the following:

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed...

As appropriate as the psalm seemed to the geopolitical climate a year ago, it seems even more appropriate now.


Psalm #4

If I might impose; allow me to to suggest a reinstatement, a return, a coming like the splitting of another veil, the fission of this present from the eternal Real, so that men might tremble in the memory of their once Edenic selves.

Could there be a quickening return of the Immediate Dramatic, a natural transfiguration of clouds, from mist to Face, a thundering rising from the earth's bowells, ozone steaming, rising upwards like asphalt incense?

Were I so bold, might I request a trumpet, a white horse, an inimitable, fierce army of the once low, poor saints? Might the air be filled with all that Is, so that those who would breathe life are filled with life, and those who breathe death drink only dread?

On the mountain called expectation do the suffering poor wait for the terrifying, Vehement Beautiful.

In the deserts of war do the greater men fill their mouths with the orders of bones.


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*Photo by Shawn Semmler, Creative Commons via Flickr.

Psalm #16 (Elegy)

Last week I participated in a small retreat in North Carolina. The spiritual directors (for lack of a better term) asked two questions. First, they asked "what is the state of your soul?" Next, they asked, "what do you want?" Today's psalm deals with the second question.


Psalm #16 (Elegy)


When the lesser lights escape my eyes and the wild berth of my first person present enters the great conflagration, its carbon reduced and confined to columbarium, Ozark stone, or the cypress-kneed banks of my grandfather's Black Bayou,

When I rise to the new third-person (the indefinite glorious pronoun), wake to the far-shored tomorrow, may the minds of men turn tender and remember that their seeing, their receiving was born of my best attempts to cast honest visions, to give give truer gifts.


This was meager, and how I knew: only dim, only poor.


Even as I learn to see through new eyes without the film of today's dawn, may my sons tell of my best efforts. May I be found like Einaudi's crescendos, like Peter the Saint's confessions, like the Psalmist's cup: beautiful, true, and overflowing from this one finite chalice.



Photo (top) by gogoloopie, Creative Commons via Flickr. Post and book spine photo by Seth Haines

Psalm #13 (Picidae)

On Mondays I’ve taken to writing psalms.  This week's offering is inspired by two woodpeckers I saw peckering at the flamed maple outside of my dining room window. They were mining the good stuff from innards of the trees, and I thought there might be a metaphor in there somewhere. For reference, Picidae is the family name for the class of birds known as woodpeckers.


Psalm #13 (Picidae)

The woodpeckers, male and female, cling fast to bark, just at yard’s edge, beaks mining grubs from the hard hearts of the blushing broad-leafed maples. These trees, willing participants in the culling, gentle nature, bend in the wind, groan under the thud of the Picidae harvest, yield to the ever-pecking tedious now that is redemption.


Speaking of redemption, enjoy this little number by Daniel Martin Moore.

Psalm #7 (Here's to Austin)

On Mondays I’ve taken to writing psalms. This weekend, I was blessed to spend time with a few friends--some old, some new--in Austin. We worked during the day and practiced the fine art of Human Care. At night, we gathered in the living room or on the front porch and unwound. It was a weekend that will not long be forgotten. Today's psalm is an exercise in establishing road signs and rock piles, a place for me (and perhaps others) to return to a very good weekend. But even if you weren't in Austin with us, I'm quite certain you have your own porches and altars. These are places worthy of celebration.


Psalm #7

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God!

Under the ancient arms of Spanish Oak, the dancing, twisting arms reaching up, was established both porch and altar. There, a flagrant disregard for dignity led us to over-indulgences. Laughter, confession, praise, wine-- these are the ways that quicken and bind breaths, that instruct in caring for others and ourselves.

We rooted until morning in Adirondacks, the Adirondacks rooted into concrete, the concrete rooted into Austin hardpan, into the things established by the first voice, and we found a language less fore-ordained and more of our choosing, language that danced and twisted and rose like the incense of Spanish Oak arms, the always-up meandering; this, our way to cry "Abba!" and to be answered with a flash flood of one-thousand epiphanies.

It is right to give Him thanks and praise!


Photo by Missy Dollahon, via Facebook.